Joy Wetzel, SCA Interpretive Ranger

Does your garbage bin frequently come close to overflowing? Do you hate having to buy expensive fertilizer for your garden? Are you constantly dealing with soil erosion in your backyard? If I told you there was an inexpensive and effective at-home way to resolve these problems, all while reducing your carbon footprint, would it sound too good to be true? Fortunately, this solution is real, and it’s called composting.

What is Composting?

Composting is a method of recycling organic waste into fertilizer with the help of fungi, bacteria, and insects. Organic waste is anything biodegradable that once came from a living thing (for example: food scraps, yard trimmings, paper, and manure). Through composting, you can return these materials to the earth.

Why Should I Compost?

Here are just a few reasons why composting is a great choice for your household:

Ingredients for a Healthy Compost

Julia Simon, NPR, 2022

At Bear Brook State Park, where the SCA New Hampshire Conservation Corps is based, a healthy compost pile requires a careful balance of several ingredients:

Your compost should comprise approximately one part “greens” to three parts “browns.” Use the lasagna method when adding to your pile, layering the two types of materials and finishing with “browns” to avoid attracting wildlife.

What Not to Compost

In addition to knowing what must go in to their pile, a successful composter must know what to keep out.

The composting setup at Bear Brook State Park’s Spruce Pond Camp.

Choosing a Method

As you choose your composting method, begin by asking yourself some key questions:

Once you’ve answered these questions for yourself, you can look determine what container works best for your compost.

Our compost in-progress. At least once per week, someone thoroughly turns the pile with a pitchfork or shovel.

Compost Troubleshooting

Composting is a complex process, and running into problems is extremely common. Please don’t fell discouraged! Here are some tips for troubleshooting a troublesome compost pile:


During a time when many of us feel powerless to combat climate change, it’s extremely important to remember that every little positive act matters. Composting is just one of many ways to give back to our planet. Like every natural process, composting takes a lot of time and patience, but it can be incredibly rewarding. Allow yourself to play with your composting methods, treat this as a learning experience, and marvel at the circle of life as it takes place right in your compost pile!

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